By Yin Nwe Ko
IN THE early part of 2020, COVID 19 started touching hither and thither in Myanmar with its cruel merciless hands. We called it the first wave of the pandemic. I remembered it was also the third week of March. All the parents of the students who were studying English in my class did not let their kids go to my classroom. The panic spread more quickly than expected. At that moment, I had already collected their fees for three months: March, April, and May. I had to choose two ways. The first was to refund their fees to them. The second was to go on my teaching with the help of internet access.
I thought about them for about a week and finally decided to choose the second way. There were many challenges for me to carry out my tasks. I learned how to use the Zoom app and Google Classroom effectively. For an unfamiliar one to information technology like me, there were many difficulties with which I had to face. First, I attended a free photoshop class with the Zoom app as a trainee. It lasted 10 days and it was conducted by a well-known instructor from Mandalay. After a 10-day training, I was able to use the Zoom app rather skillfully.
No matter how skillfully I could use the app, there were still many difficulties in sharing my skill with my students. Some parents of the students were very stubborn to accept to use of internet access. I realized it was not their fault because they were afraid of using unfamiliar technology at once. Moreover, they did not believe my proposal which I explained there would be beneficial and effective for their kids. Some parents were willing to accept my advice and I started my teaching with the Zoom app. While continuing my teaching, I had to study to use PowerPoint and how to change the formats of the documents from one to another with computer applications.
PowerPoint presentations could make the students very interested, I found. Therefore, I tried to make PowerPoint slides for every lecture. The animation effects in PowerPoint could make the concentration of the students focus on the lectures. About one month later, there was a teaching technique I took notice of on Facebook. It was posted by a Professor from a University in Magway. It was Google Classroom. The Professor explained it in detail. I saved his post and then printed it out. I studied how to use Google Classroom for online students effectively from his printed papers. Google Classroom is very useful in posting the assignments such as documents, pictures, photos, and videos to the students and vice versa from the students as their projects.
While using the Zoom app, I happened to take notice of the effectiveness of Google Classroom on the students.
Zoom offers 40 minutes free and one can upgrade to professional use costing a little amount. One can lecture with Zoom thoroughly and make the students do their homework as a project. The project can be enlarged up to two or three days. As the levels of my students varied from beginners to intermediates, their skills to use computers and smartphones also varied. However, they gradually understood how to take lectures on Zoom and how to implement their projects using internet access such as google translate, Google image, etc.
What is more, Google Classroom can give the users the followings:
1. It’s free! ...
2. Easy to set up in a few steps....
3. Recognized by many schools and organizations. ...
4. Already integrated with Google Drive and other tools. ...
5. Comes with Google’s security. ...
6. Free training and learning opportunities. ...
7. Integrates with many 3rd party apps. ...
8. Includes “guardian” features for parents.
Furthermore, as a free online learning platform, Google Classroom offers several benefits for students and teachers. Here are some reasons why our teachers should give it a try.
Google Classroom can be accessed from any computer via Google Chrome or from any mobile device regardless of platform. All files uploaded by teachers and students are stored in a Classroom folder on Google Drive. Users can access Classroom anytime, anywhere. Students no longer have to worry about crashed computers or hungry dogs.
The classroom provides students with exposure to an online learning system. Many college and university programs now require students to enrol in at least one online class. Exposure to Google Classroom may help students transition into other learning management systems used in higher education.
Teachers and students won’t have excessive amounts of paper to shuffle since Classroom is completely paperless. When teachers upload assignments and assessments to Classroom, they are simultaneously saved to Drive. Students can complete assignments and assessments directly through Classroom, and their work is also saved to Drive. Students can access missed work due to absences and locate other resources they may need.
The classroom is a huge time saver. With all resources saved in one place and the ability to access Classroom anywhere, teachers will have more free time to complete other tasks. Since Classroom can be accessed from a mobile device, teachers and students can participate through their phones or tablets.
Built-in tools make communicating with students and parents a breeze. Teachers and students can send emails, post to the stream, send private comments on assignments, and provide feedback on work. Teachers have full control over student comments and posts. They can also communicate with parents through individual emails or through Classroom email summaries which include class announcements and due dates.
The classroom offers several ways for students to collaborate. Teachers can facilitate online discussions between students and create group projects within the Classroom. In addition, students can collaborate on Google Docs which have been shared by the teacher.
Most digital natives are comfortable with technology and will be more apt to take ownership of their learning through the use of technology. The classroom offers numerous ways to make learning interactive and collaborative. It offers teachers the ability to differentiate assignments, include videos and web pages into lessons, and create collaborative group assignments.
Through Classroom, teachers are easily able to differentiate instruction for learners. Assigning lessons to the whole class, individual students, or groups of students takes just a few simple steps when creating an assignment on the Classwork page.
Providing meaningful feedback to students is a valuable part of all learning. Within the grading tool of Classroom, teachers can send feedback to each student on assignments. The ability to create a comment bank for future use is also available within the grading tool. In addition, the Classroom mobile app allows users to annotate work.
In order to make learning meaningful, teachers should analyze data from assessments to ensure students are understanding learning objectives. Data from assessments can easily be exported into sheets for sorting and analysis.
Now I have over two years of experience in using the Zoom app and Google Classroom. I found my students are able to understand the access to the internet and they can really raise standard studies. I have gained the belief of their parents day after day. COVID 19 brought us uncountable sorrowful miseries but it has already activated our endeavour, which needs to survive in education, awake, I think.